The Issues with Narrative Forms

So finally getting back to part 2 of the post I did a while ago I’d like to address some of the issues that arise when dealing with different narrative forms. Mainly the fact that people tend to have very strong opinions as to which narrative form it the best.

I have problem with this because I may have gotten my degree in English and spent a great deal of  time reading literature that was character driven, but the first book that made me fall in love with reading was about far from what many people would call literature.

It was a fantasy novel with dragons and sword fights and weird time travel. There were strong characters within it, and I think that it was well written, but in the guidelines that my teachers use it wouldn’t make the cut as literature.

That’s not a bad thing. Some people don’t like dealing with very real issues when they read. Reading is an escape as much as it is an adventure. I think that we can learn many things from books regardless if it falls under the heading of literature or any other genre.

Books are for readers and regardless of what you like to read there will be someone with similar interests who wants to write those books. So issues with narrative forms is more an argument of taste rather than actual merit.

Read whatever you want! I can say this because you’re reading this blog. If you’re reading then you should be able to handle anything.

Have a great evening (if it’s evening where you are)!

We Must Celebrate Ourselves, and Sing Ourselves: What Whitman Can Teach Us.

For anyone who has not read Walt Whitman I certainly encourage you to do so, especially “Song of Myself”, which is my favorite of his works. I think that “Song of Myself” is something that everyone can relate to because it encompasses such a wide range of topics and emotions. Ralph Waldo Emerson applauded Whitman for his work because he was able to encompass such emotion and acceptance within the work.

Whitman

Want to hear about nudity? Done. Old people? Done. Sex? It’s in there. Whitman’s own overconfidence? Check. Nothing was off the table.

The diversity of his topics, and the boldness in which he discusses them is rather astonishing the first time reading “Song of Myself”, but Whitman has a purpose. He encouraged each person to live up to their own potential, and not worry so much about the success of others.

“I resist any thing better than my own diversity,

Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,

And am not stuck up, and am in my place.”

Whitman’s claim to be diverse was prominent within his life time, but it still holds true to our society today. With the bombardment of social media telling us how to think, what to wear, and how to feel, it is sometime difficult to separate how we really feel, with what society wants us to feel. That said, we do have an astonishingly large amount of diversity compared to what Whitman faced when he first published “Song of Myself” in the 19th century. I think he would be proud of the movements we have made towards acceptance of thoughts and beliefs not our own, but I think he would also see that there is still much to do.

And that starts with us. By accepting our own diversity we free ourselves to being open to other ways of thinking. Whitman understood this, and he pushed this type of thinking within “Song of Myself”. We must celebrate our selves, and sing ourselves, so that we can come to accept who we are, and accept the diversity within the world around us.

What is greater than our diversity? We have molded the world into a myriad of cultures and beliefs that sometime have trouble seeing eye to eye, but if we were all the same where would the wonder be about learning new things? What would be the point of studying new cultures and languages if we new everything right from the beginning. Our diversity opens new doors every day, and to every new generation. So, in siding with Whitman’s “hippie” sentiments, it is time to accept our differences, celebrate ourselves, and sing it to the world, because nothing could be better than accepting each other for our differences, and seeing the gift that it has the potential to be.

Photo Courtesy of: www.english.illinois.edu

What does literature mean to you?

As an avid reader and writer I have always wondered how, and why, people become so attached to the characters within stories. One of the first books that ever caught my attention, and really started my love of reading, was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. As a young girl it was full of adventure, and I felt a connection to the female protagonist. Looking back on it now, it is still one of the most tattered books I own, probably because I pick it up constantly just to flip through its pages. In reality, it didn’t need to have the fantasy elements for me to love it, and that is because I fell in love with the characters. I think that is the main reason I have devoted my life to literature: I feel an emotional connection to the characters and their struggles.

Over the years my reading has included more Fitzgerald and Shakespeare than McCaffery, but that doesn’t mean McCaffery’s stories won’t hold a special place in my heart. I have a problem with people who say that books read just for fun are not literature. If we took each book and based its merit on the complexity of the sentences, or the depth of the thematic purpose, then we might find the books that say something uniquely profound about our society and how we function. Certainly, these titles cause English majors and other books enthusiasts to leap with joy (literally or metaphorically? you decide), but there is something about that one book that sparked that part of your brain making you want to read more. That’s because it says something about you as a person. Regardless if the first book you fell in love with was a fantasy novel, or a poem by T.S. Eliot, it opened up new doors for you that wouldn’t have been discovered had you not given the first book a chance.